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January 27, 2023

Confidence = Con-Fidere

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Something I learned through Brian Johnson and his personal development platform Heroic, which I use daily, is the etymological definition of confidence. The latin roots of confidence can be traced back to “con-fidere” which translates to “intense trust”. Now this might not make immediate sense when you think about your own relationship with feeling confident, so let’s break it down and you can see it for yourself.

First let’s think about scenarios that test your confidence. It’s following through on making that bold decision or taking a chance. It’s putting yourself out there, maybe even in a public way by speaking on a stage. The common theme in situations that require you to be confident is that they’re inherently uncertain. You’re making a decision and you don’t know if it’s the right one. You’re taking a chance and you don’t know how it will pan out. You’re on stage and you’re unsure if it’ll tank, if you'll embarrass yourself, or if the message will really land.

So for that reason I have always described confidence as how you perceive you will perform in an uncertain or unpredictable situation. When you’re confident you feel as though things will go well, and when you’re short on confidence you’re worried that it might not.

Now this is where the intense trust comes in. If you have your own back so genuinely, without hesitation or reservation, you have a knowingness that you will rise to the occasion. This gives you the perception that you will perform well through uncertainty. 

But also worth mentioning, if things do go poorly, you have the tools, mindsets to not let it destroy you. You have the trust in yourself that you can pick yourself back up if you fall. That’s also confidence, but being placed in more of a ‘recovery situation’.

A friend of mine named Heather Monahan has an expression that “at every moment you’re either creating confidence or chipping away at it.” She argues that this self-perception is a dynamic quality and you need to prove it to yourself. It involves putting yourself in these uncertain situations to realize that you’re capable of managing them well. It’s doing the work in advance so that you can be prepared and lean on all of the reps you’ve done in the past. 

Confidence is earned and grown over time. You need to invest in building that intense trust. But when you do you’ll start pushing the boundaries for what you thought was possible in the world.

And the good news - by showing up for this lesson, internalizing the growth, and investing in your future, you’re supporting your own confidence. It’s a first step and there are more to come, but you’re on the path.

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